Just when the Twins thought their coaching staff for 2018 was in place, along comes Ron Gardenhire.
Gardenhire, recently named manager in Detroit, hired bench coach Joe Vavra from the Twins on Monday. Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech wrote on Twitter that Vavra will serve as a quality control coach.
“It was a really tough decision because of my indebtedness to the Twins,” said Vavra, who signed a two-year deal. “It was a really tough decision to leave [manager] Paul Molitor.”
Vavra, 57, joined the Twins in 2002 as minor league field coordinator and moved to the majors in 2006 as hitting coach. He was third base coach in 2013-14, then became the bench coach in 2015 when Molitor replaced Gardenhire as manager.
Gardenhire, named Tigers manager on Oct. 20, is still assembling his staff. Chris Bosio is expected to be named pitching coach, while longtime Gardenhire confidant Rick Anderson is expected to be the bullpen coach. Lloyd McClendon will coach third base.
Meanwhile, the Twins are now in the market for a bench coach, and will consider internal and external candidates.
Vavra’s departure is the second change in Molitor’s staff. Pitching coach Neil Allen was not retained, and the team hired Garvin Alston for that spot Thursday.
Training staff pared
The Twins have parted ways with Lanning Tucker, who spent the past five seasons on the major league staff as an assistant athletic trainer and rehab coordinator.
“I was blessed to be part of the Twins family for 26 years,” Tucker said Monday. “I do not leave with a bad taste in my mouth.”
Tucker, 50, had been with the Twins since 1992. From 1999 to 2012, he was the head minor league athletic trainer and rehab coordinator. Most Twins players recovering from surgeries were sent to Fort Myers, Fla., to work with him.
Ryan O’Rourke, Trevor May and J.T. Chargois were among pitchers rehabbing under Tucker’s watch in Fort Myers, Fla., when General Manager Thad Levine called late last week and informed Tucker that he was being fired.
Like many areas of the organization since Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey took over a year ago, the training staff in undergoing changes. In addition to Tucker’s departure, head athletic trainer Dave Pruemer stepped down at the end of the season for family reasons. Assistant trainer Tony Leo will be the only one of the group to return in 2018.